While shopping in Pt. Lempira in May 2018, I came across a vender who recognized me for my work with the scarlet macaw project centered in Mabita, La Moskitia, Honduras. There we have a Rescue and Liberation Center where wild birds and chicks are cared for, and also where the authorities place birds confiscated from the illegal wildlife trade. Occasionally owners will relinquish their birds in hopes that they will fly free (and to avoid paying fines).
This vender told me that he had given his bird to the police so that they could take the bird to Mabita. "Paco is ten years old and plucked his feathers out. I wanted him to be free, so I turned him in." I replied, "They pluck feathers due to stress so it is good you gave him up." He showed me a picture, and I told him, "I know your bird from the Center, and he will fly free one day!"
Self-plucked birds at Rescue Center, Mabita
The man then admitted to buying two wild chicks three years ago from a trapper near Corinto, a village that we work with and that is on a major parrot trade route on the border of Nicaragua and Honduras. He said that he didn't want the birds to remain in captivity, so he cared for them, never clipping their wings. They now fly free and far, though they come back frequently to feed at the corrals where he milks his cows. I thanked him for his vision for the future of these birds.
Video of macaw drinking milk at a cow ranch on the border
Our vision must also include liberating birds (and ourselves) but also avoiding the situation in the first place. Being forcibly removed from your family and fed milk is not a good life for a parrot. We humans can move towards reconciliation by providing support for these birds to return to the wild, and even better, to have their nests and homes protected, so they never have to go through the trauma of family separation.
Liberated bird at the Rescue Center
If you'd like to keep parrot families intact, please consider supporting our parrot nest protection program in this area of Honduras. We were not able to extend to Corinto this year, but with support, we hope to next year. Thank you!